In my last column, I talked about the wonderful Sphynx cats that I met during my New York City trip. I called them gray. Turns out that Fiona is technically blue and pink, like an Easter egg, while Finn is all pink. In truth, while the hairless kitties look pink, if they had fur, the fur over the "pink" areas would be white. So, Fiona would be a blue and white, and Finn would be white.
The names for colors in animal breeds always fascinate me. What I called gray was apparently blue in the world of cats. Although, while blue does seem to mean gray in the feline world, in the standard of the lovely chartreux the word gray does sneak in: any shade of blue-gray from ash to slate.
The International Cat Association lists, among other colors: black, black amber, blue, blue amber, blue caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, lilac, lilac caramel, fawn, fawn caramel, red, cream and cream caramel. These are all solid colors and are very descriptive, except lilac may be a bit misleading. Lilac is a very soft gray with a pinkish tone to it. It's a rare color.
In dogs, sometimes the same color has a different name, depending on what breed of dog has that color. For example, Pembroke Welsh corgis may be "red," but on a golden retriever, that "red" is, according to the standard, "rich, lustrous golden of various shades."
Dapple, a color pattern seen in dachshunds, is referred to as "merle" in breeds such as collies, shetland sheepdogs, Australian shepherds and cardigan Welsh corgis. That same merle pattern, seen in a beauceron, is called "harlequin." As stated in the standard, "harlequin is a black and tan base color with a pattern of blue-gray patches distributed evenly over the body and balanced with the base color, sometimes with a predominance of black."
This "harlequin" should not be confused with "harlequin" markings in a great dane. A harlequin great dane is black and white, rather like pinto markings in a horse. The standard says that the "base color shall be pure white with black torn patches irregularly and well distributed over the entire body."
Don't confuse this with what the great dane standard calls "mantle," which is a great dane marked much like a Boston terrier, with a black body and head, white muzzle, white chest and collar and white feet.
In Norwich terriers, "grizzle" is a color. In salukis, "grizzle" is not a color, but a coat pattern. This same coat pattern in Afghan hounds is called "domino."
Norwich terriers also can be "wheaten," but that's a different look from the "wheaten" of a Rhodesian ridgeback, which ranges in color from "light wheaten to red wheaten."
Then there are animals that are white, black and tan/orange/red/brown. Cats with this color combination are called calicos and are almost always female. Dogs of many breeds can have this combination and they are called tri-colored. Beagles, corgis and foxhounds are some examples in dogs, and the coloring is not exclusive to one sex.
On the bi-colored doberman, the markings on a black doberman are described as "rust." That same deep color just gets called tan, as in black, white and tan, on the dog license form that describes my tri-colored corgis. Tan is the term used in the standard as well, but there's a wide range of shades covered by that term. Gael shows a very dark, rich brown, while Rhiannon's is a bit lighter, and with more red in it.
I love learning what various colors are officially called in the various breeds of dogs and cats, but, while we may all have color preferences, the color doesn't really matter at all. What matters is that these animals are our beloved pets. My corgis are tri-colored, and, more specifically, redheaded tris, but you can call them black and tan and white, or just black and tan, if you want to. They still make me laugh and bring me joy every day and I'm guessing those sphynx cats do the same, whether you call them blue or gray.
Pawprint: Does anyone remember Mickey, the dog that lived in and around the old Hebner Heights area back in the 1950s and '60s? Please email me if you do, at email@example.com.
Pawprint: I meant to include this website when I discussed fleas and ticks a few weeks ago. If you want more information on pets and parasites, check out www.petsandparasites.org.